As enterprises look to make the most of their data, they should consider the benefits that data integration can bring to their business, especially as more organizations undergo digital transformation.
As companies have adopted more digital resources to power their business, there’s been a corresponding rise in the amount of data they need to manage. Worldwide organizations generate around 2.5 quintillion bytes of data each day. As digital tools become a larger part of the fabric of our workplaces—especially with the rise of the cloud—companies are faced with the challenge of keeping up with the increased amount of data they’re generating. A business may adopt a range of apps and software that generate data, which is typically stored separately—making it more challenging to harness the information to improve business operations. That’s where data integration comes in.
Data integration gives companies more power to leverage the data they create and ensure it’s free of errors or duplication. The rise of business apps and other digital tools, along with the evolution of on-premises to cloud data storage, has made data integration essential for enterprises in a number of ways.
One of the most visible benefits of data integration is accessibility. By uniting all of their data into one source, it’s easier for companies to efficiently tap into the information. Being able to access data more readily is key to unlocking other benefits of data integration and eliminates the amount of labor with having to piece together data from multiple sources.
Data integration also simplifies tracking. With all data compiled together, organizations have a better overall view of where things stand throughout a business process. For example, through data integration, a company can see how a customer is progressing through a sales funnel and what actions they’re taking along the way. Without data integration, information about a customer’s behavior could be confined to the marketing email platform, the user information database, and ad platforms that the company uses with user acquisition.
Similar to tracking, data integration enables better reporting practices for enterprises. Instead of going to different sources to access and gather data, it allows IT teams to streamline their reporting needs since they can run reports and grab what they need through a singular place. Data integration also improves reporting by giving a more comprehensive view across all apps, software, and systems.
Overall, data integration is a powerful resource for putting a company’s information at leaders’ fingertips—helping them make more intelligent, informed decisions, improve their agility, and the ability to identify areas of success or improvement in ways that weren’t previously possible or easy to access.
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Challenges and Risks with Data Integrations
Given all the benefits that businesses can gain,, organizations need to be aware of the common issues that can arise, such as importing data, exporting data, data formats, or lack of automation. It goes without saying that data integration is only useful if the data itself is complete and accurate. Errors that come from missing fields or incorrect inputs can have a significant impact on business operations.
For example, customer success teams could quickly lose the chance to improve the customer journey if the data surrounding customer engagement from different sources isn’t aligned. In a sense, inaccurate data is worse than no data at all since inaccurate data could lead to poor business decisions or misunderstandings that prevent the company from strengthening its performance.
Mistakes made during the integration process can be a huge pain to reverse or reconcile. Businesses concerned about handling an integration should consider the benefits of automated tools to ensure a smooth transition.
Assistance from Automated Tools
Managing a data integration project shouldn’t be taken lightly, given the cost of working with incomplete information or data that contains errors. By using a packaged system, MSPs and IT leaders can track data movement and support successful integrations and data recovery when needed. Integration tools help map the path from point A to point B carefully, and many also offer preventative tools that can help companies ensure their data is successfully integrated.
Losing data during an integration poses a significant risk for companies that want to make the most of the data they have. Thankfully, automation tools can establish methods to prevent data from being lost in the transition, such as a publish/subscribe model, which creates copies of the data on-demand instead of sending the original data. Staging areas create a space for verified data to wait before it is loaded. In addition, some integration software can help businesses establish receipts that provide a way to document how data is used or moved to ensure it’s not being accidentally deleted or modified incorrectly.
There is a noteworthy difference between the common approaches for moving data that businesses should be aware of as they shop for an integration software provider. Traditionally, data integrations are approached through the “ETL” (extract, transform, and load) method. This process moves data from a source system to a warehouse or another system and allows the data to be manipulated in the middle.
However, the “TEL” (transform, extract, and load) process is more effective since it gives you a chance to transform or change the data first before it’s moved. Changing data in the middle of the integration process doesn’t always create the desired result—and can cause more problems once the data is loaded.
As enterprises look to make the most of their data, they should consider the benefits that data integration can bring to their business, especially as more organizations undergo digital transformation. While managing a vast amount of data can be cumbersome, there’s also a lot of valuable information to be gleaned from company data.